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Love and hate?

April 13, 2013

“I hate you then I love you” – Celine Dion (from the album Let’s talk about love)

If someone says “I love God”, but hates his  Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar” – 1 John 4:20

1 John  4:7 – 20 homes in on love, and in particular John’s continuing encouragement to love one another. We are told that people looking on at the early church were impressed by how much “they love each other” and as people look at the church today it would be good to think that that quality can still be seen. Of course what is often commented on nowadays is the many divisions within the church.

God is love. That is his nature. Maybe we think that God is angry, God is distant, God is judgemental. GOD IS LOVE. It is not even that God is loving. No if you want a definition of love then you look no further than God – he is the very definition. Maybe we need to see God in a completely new light. As a loving father who longs for a living relationship and wants only the best for us. And Jesus is the one in whom God is made known to us.

So God is the source of love and God is the supreme example of love. So when we are told to love each other God’s love is the measure of ours. To love as he loves is to be his child. On the other hand, to live a loveless life is to deny our relationship with him.

So how does it work. It all starts with God. It is not about our initiative. It is about him – he loved us first. But that love was not just a warm sentimental feeling. It led God to act. It led him to send Jesus. And not just to smile at us, but to die for us. Could there be a greater demonstration of love than that?

If Jesus was the visible face of God, John reminded his readers that things had now moved on. It was now the church that showed God to the world. And how did they do that? By loving each other. We love as a response to his love. The invisible God becomes visible in the lives of his people. And it’s not a poor thing, but the full expression of God’s love.

And love grows more perfect. We know we are accepted in him and there is no fear of judgement for us.

So let’s all love one another. Oh hang on a minute, apparently there is more to it than that. I mean the church is quite a broad mix of people and their are people I don’t really like that much. Well apparently that’s OK. The liberating news for me as a Christian is I can love someone without liking them. No matter how much they get on my nerves with their irritating habits and their funny looks. I don’t actually have to overdo it.

And if I’m really confident in my position it gets better. I can actually go up to the people I don’t like and tell them I don’t like them. “Can I say this to you in love brother, I really can’t stand you. The way you look, the way you play guitar, your preaching style. I hope you don’t mind me telling you – in love. Just wanted to encourage you.”

That is the kind of love that has so often been demonstrated in our churches and it’s not the kind of love that is going to grab people’s attention, except for its eccentricity!

John says if you say you love God, but hate your brother, you are not kidding anyone. The response to the love of God is a love for others which is visible.

Of course this does not come naturally. “It’s easy – all you need is love” doesn’t quite cut it. Love is a decision we make, but is it too much to believe that if we follow the way of love it will change our relationships too. If I stop moaning about my sister and pray for her instead, shouldn’t I find that I actually care about her in ways that will be visible. If I am conscious of someone else’s faults, do I look to tear down or to build up.  And allow others to do the same to me?

The scary thing is that this world needs to see the love of God and the only way they can do is through the church. If the thousands of denominations don’t put them off, if our disagreements over trivial issues doesn’t get to them. Better to reach out and build bridges between the many church groups. God is love. Let’s love each other not just in words but in action. Then the invisible becomes visible.

 

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From → Christianity

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